SHANGLA: As summer progresses, the number of visitors in Shangla increases by the day. The long Eid weekend gave tourists an ideal opportunity to flock to the district and escape heat-trapping urban centres.
This time, hoteliers and locals say, all past records have been broken and Shangla has seen the largest number of visitors ever.
Neighbouring Swat, Shangla is an amalgam of small valleys, hills covered with vegetation and eye-catching meadows. The district is also home to vast forestlands.
Although an ideal tourist site, it has been in the shadows of recurring natural disasters like flash floods and has also been marred by terrorism. Even this year, the water level in the Indus River is rising in the district, increasing flood threat.
Invasion of the room snatchers
The surprising turn of events this year was that visitors chose Shangla over its neighbouring attractions. Besham is flooded with travellers and hotel owners are clearly making the best of this opportunity.
Room rents and prices of foodstuff have gone skyrocketing. Most of the available spaces have already been rented out and one can find tourists staying in mosques and even sleeping in their own vehicles.
A room that was easily available for Rs1,000 to Rs1,200 a few months ago is hard to find even for Rs6,000 to Rs8,000. Seeing the numerous business opportunities at hand, locals are clearly not complaining about the sudden invasion.
Besham has been made more accessible following the opening of roads connecting the city to other areas of the district. Sites like Yakh Tangay and attractions like Kotkay chairlift and Machar have particularly caught the eye of visitors. While Machar Lake is a photographer’s paradise, Pir Khana is for those who prefer solitude.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.